Sunday, September 15, 2013

How to Trade-in Your iPhone at Amazon

Apple unveiled its latest smartphone models of the iPhone earlier this September 2013. There were two new models unveiled, namely, the iPhone 5c which is available on pre-order.

While the iPhone 5s will be released on September 20, 2013. Both these new iPhone models will come with the new iOS 7.0 and have a 4-inch capacitive LED-backlit IPS display.

The Apple iPhone 5c is a cheaper model and comes in six different colors: Black, White, Pink, Yellow, Blue, Green and is made of plastic which will be available for $99 (16 GB) and $199 (32 GB) with a wireless contract. It has the A6 dual-core 1.3 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM. It has two cameras: 8 MP rear, and 1.2 MP front-facing.

The iPhone 5s is the more expensive model and comes in three colors: silver, gold and grey with the premium Apple feel to it. It comes in three memory storage models: $199 (16 GB), $299 (32 GB), and $399 (64 GB) on contract. It is equipped with the new iSight auto image stabilization 8 MP reare camera, and 1.2 MP front-facing camera. The iPhone 5s has the new A7 dual-core 1.7 GHz processor which is supposed to be twice as fast as the A6 processor.

With the launch of the new Apple iPhone smartphone models in September 2013, several resale sites have seen a surge in trade-ins of older iPhone models. Amazon is one such site which allows consumers to trade-in or sell their old iPhones via their website.

In terms of the iPhone Trade-in this is how it works: visit Amazon’s iPhone Trade-in website, select the iPhone model to trade in, get a free shipping label, and get an Amazon gift card. Alternatively, if you wish you sell your old iPhone model for cash, you can visit Amazon’s Sell Your iPhone website, list your iPhone, and once it sells, Amazon will deposit the payment into your bank account. If you trade-in your old iPhone at Amazon by October 15, 2013, you can lock in your offer as per Amazon’s website.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Firefox Browser Review 2013

Firefox 23 is the latest Rapid Release version of Mozilla’s internet browser which was released in August 2013. Mozilla has been releasing these web browser updates approximately once every six weeks. 

In 2013, they have released seven upgrades so far, and I’ve used every one of them. In most of these upgrades, we see several fixes to bugs, including security vulnerabilities. Some of the notable new Firefox browser features and changes implemented in 2013, are discussed below: 

Mixed Content Browsing is a security feature introduced in FF23 to protect users when using HTTPS pages. Some of these HTTPS sites include mixed content which are essentially unencrypted HTTP through which hackers can get access to sensitive information when visiting such sites. A warning signal will be displayed to users when such sites are visited and mixed content is blocked. 

Mozilla had introduced a sharing / social API feature in Firefox 17. This feature enabled to integrate social media platforms like Facebook directly in any website, on the right sidebar. This feature was enhanced and made available to all developers. Social sites like Facebook, msnNOW, Mixi, and Cliqz are currently available via this social API. 

Through WebRTC (Real-Time Communication) Firefox users can now effectively communicate via video, voice, and text without requiring to install add-ons to do so. Essentially, all the 3 components (getUserMedia, PeerConnection and DataChannels) of WebRTC have now been enabled by default. 

The Do Not Track (DNT) feature was implemented in May 2013. This DNT feature allows enables FF users to opt-out from being tracked from a behavourial ad tracking perspective. Users can choose from one of three options in terms of controlling how websites track their browser usage behaviour. 

We’ve seen some performance enhancements too. For example, enabling “asm.js optimization” module, via OdinMonkey has optimized JavaScript performance. In Firefox 21, we saw the introduction of the Firefox Health Report to help track and enhance browser performance. 

Some others new features that were implemented were Private Browsing per window through which users can browse privately on one window, while still browsing regularly through another window. Also, Firefox simplified how downloads are managed without having to open a new window. For a detailed look at changes that were implemented on each of these Rapid Release versions, visit Firefox Reviews 2013. You can check the YouTube video review of the latest Firefox 23 browser below:

Firefox is definitely one of my favourite browsers, but Google Chrome has come to the forefront in the past year or so and taken over from Internet Explorer and Firefox, in terms of Global Usage share. As you can see from the Top Internet Browsers chart below, courtesy StatCounter as at August 2013:

From the results of the latest Peacekeeper Browser Benchmark tests that I ran, you can see below that Google Chrome continues to outperform Firefox in terms of overall performance:

Image Credit: Firefox Logo Used Under Creative Commons CC Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Google Chromecast Unveiled

Google Chromecast was introduced by Google on July 24, 2013. Chromecast is a neat HDMI stick that lets you stream online video, as well as music, to your high-definition TV from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

This new device is compatible with Android, iOS, Chrome for Windows, and Chrome for Mac. Essentially, you can play online video from online platforms like YouTube, Google Play, and Netflix. Also, you can stream media via Google's Chrome browser.

As you can see, the Chromecast device is similar to a flash drive, but it plugs into the HDMI port of your TV. You then connect it to your Wi-Fi network and stream media from your smartphone, tablet or computer, to your HDTV. Google's Chromecast priced at $35 makes it affordable, especially when compared to online media streaming devices like Roku ($80) and Apple TV box ($99).

When purchased, the package includes the Chromecast device, an HDMI extender, a USB power cable, and a power adapter. With the launch of Chromecast, Google offered a free 3-month Netflix subscription for a limited number of purchases. This offer has now expired and no longer available. To learn how to set up Google Chromecast, check the video tutorial below:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Vulnerability in Android Smartphones

If you’re an Android smartphone user, you may want to pay attention to this security vulnerability which was first reported by Bluebox Security.

Essentially, with this Android vulnerability, hackers are able to take control of any app installed on your smartphone and turn it into a malicious Trojan. And all this activity takes place under the radar without being detected even by the Google App Store because this vulnerability enables the app APK code to be modified without detection. Having done so, the hacker gets complete access to the exploited smartphone(s).

According to Bluebox, this security vulnerability was reported to Google in February 2013. To protect Android smartphone users, it’s manufacturers’ responsibility to provide firmware, however, this is not a consistent process and could leave users vulnerable to security breaches via their smartphones. So Android users are encouraged to be proactive and protect the security of their smartphones.

One thing you can do is beware of the types of apps you download to your smartphone. Secondly, check the Android apps you’ve already got installed on your phone and the settings for automatic updates. Some users may have hundreds of apps installed and therefore opt into the automatic app updates. This can leave your mobile phone vulnerable to updates that may contain malware and spyware. You can check the video below to learn how to disable the auto-update app feature.

Also, Bluebox has come up with a free app called “Bluebox Security Scanner” which can be downloaded at the Google Play (Google’s app store). Basically, this app will check to see if your smartphone is vulnerable; if your phone settings allow non-Google apps to be installed; and will identify specific apps installed on your smartphone that may be attempting to take advantage of this security vulnerability.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

New YouTube Features

YouTube has made some recent changes in the past couple of months so viewers and YouTube users can have a better experience. Some of these changes include more relevant videos in the Home Page feed for viewers who are signed-in YouTube. You can now better organize your video content into various sections as well as showcase different Playlists.

One of these changes includes  the introduction of a new “responsive” layout. YouTube content consumers use various types of digital devices with different screen sizes like TVs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The new responsive One Channel YouTube layout will make it possible for YT content to shrink and fit into all these different screen types.

To help YouTubers implement these changes and leverage from these new features, the YouTube Creator Academy organized a free online course. This two-week course, Maximize Your Channel, and was held between June 3 to June 17, 2013. I attended this online course and found it useful. I’ve already implemented many of things I learned during the course and am in the process of implementing others.

Some other new features that YouTube has implemented recently are: you can now receive an email notification once your video has completed uploading to YouTube. Also, the new Publish button helps you hold off on publishing your video until you’re ready. Until, the video is published, it will show as a private video. This is a good feature because you may not want the video to be public until you’ve completed filling out all the other information pertaining to the video.

YouTube has also implemented a pilot program to help some YouTube Partners offer paid channels. All these paid channels, currently have a 14-day free trial. In late May 2013, YouTube also announced the Social Star Awards which will be presented to the most popular in social media.

I like most of these changes, especially the ones related to the new One Channel YouTube layout. You can take a look at my channel by visiting AJGodinho’s YouTube Channel, to see some of the new One Channel layout features.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bubblews Review

Bubblews is an online community which was introduced in mid-2012. It is a combination of a social network and blogging platform put together. I came across this online writing community in early May 2013, via a Google+ post, and was intrigued by this growing online website. 

I checked out the website and read many of the articles or bubbles (as they call them) posted by various Bubblews' members to get a sense of what the website was about. I have to admit that, initially, I was not too impressed with many of the post because I saw a good deal of plagiarism and copyright issues on many of the bubbles. However, I also found many serious online writers who were posting good quality content. Also, I saw many familiar faces from other online communities like Squidoo, Wizzley, and people from my social networks. So skeptical as I was, I decided to join.

On May 2, 2013, I joined Bubblews and started posting articles or blog posts, mainly from a "testing the waters" perspective. According to Bubblews' TOS (Terms of Service), you are allowed to post up to 10 bubblews or posts in a 24 period, and each post should include a minimum of 400 characters.

So what makes Bubblews different from other social networks and blogging platforms? Well, Bubblews shares 50% of its advertising revenue with its members. When members' account reach the $25 threshold, they are allowed to cash out via their PayPal account. So is Bubblews legitimate? Well, I've seen my Bubblews account being credited with money, however, I've not been active enough and have not posted enough to reach the redemption yet. However, I've come across many members who have cashed out and have received their payments.

My goal is not to just publish as many articles as I can, but rather to do so at a pace I'm comfortable at, since I'm busy working on other projects. On average, I've posted less than one bubble per day and I'm ok with that. At some point, I may increase my postings on Bubblews as I go along and find more time. 

Overall, I think that this new online community has a lot of potential to grow, but more importantly, I'm impressed by the commitment of the CEO, Arvind, to improve the site, as well as take care of the plagiarism and copyright issues. You can take a look at the Bubblews' Video Review I posted on YouTube and see how easy it is to create a Bubblews article:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Facebook Home, HTC First Smartphone, & Privacy Concerns

Facebook Home was unveiled, by Mark Zuckerberg, on April 4, 2013. It is basically a user interface (UI) designed for Android smartphones to replace home screens on Android mobile devices.

As per Mark Zukerberg, Facebook Home “is designed around people, rather than apps”. With Facebook Home activated on your smartphone, your home screen becomes a cover feed displaying updates from your Facebook Newsfeed. It acts like an automatic slideshow with users being able to interact with their updates.

With FB Home, you can now get notifications, not only from FB, but others apps like Gmail and other social networks. And finally, Chat Heads is a messaging system, via Facebook, which allows users to interact with friends via SMS messages. Though FB Home is your main screen, you can get to your other apps, however, it’s one extra step.

Facebook Home comes pre-loaded on HTC First, a phone specifically designed to provide an optimal user experience with Home. Though, the Facebook Home App is available for download on Android devices via Google Play. The HTC First is a mid-level smartphone with a 4.3-inch multi-touch capacitive display, equipped with a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB RAM, and weighs 124 grams. It has a 5 MP rear camera and a 1.6 MP front-facing camera. The battery life of the HTC First smartphone is approximately 14 hours. The HTC First is not designed to compete with premium smartphones like the Apple iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S4, rather it's meant to be an affordable mobile phone, which is exclusively available through AT&T.

Check the video below to see the HTC smartphone specs and Facebook Home in action on the HTC First:

When talking about Facebook, one has to raise the question regarding privacy concerns. In the past, Facebook has faced numerous complaints with regards to user’s privacy. For users who use Facebook Home as their main screen, given that Facebook Home will constantly be on, it raises the concern that advertisers will be able to track FB user’s every actions as they interact.

Many Android apps today get access to a lot of the data on the user’s smartphones, however, it doesn’t stop Facebook from data-mining FB user’s information so advertisers and Facebook can benefit from it. I know many users, especially those who are addicted to Facebook, will enjoy this new user interface. I don’t know about you, but I’m not too comfortable letting Facebook Home take over my smartphone and my life.

So I will not be using this app. In response to user’s privacy concerns, Facebook responded “doesn’t change anything related to your privacy settings on Facebook, and your privacy controls work the same with Home as they do everywhere else on Facebook”. Here is the link to the Facebook’s Official Response to Privacy Concerns.

Monday, April 8, 2013

How to Choose the Right SD Memory Card

In this digital world, at some point or another, most of us have used a digital camera or video camcorder. Most digital cameras or camcorders, require memory cards to store pictures and videos. These memory cards look quite similar to one another but come in different specifications.

If you take a closer look at the specifications listed on the labels of memory cards, you will notice several abbreviations and numbers. All these specifications mean something and it's important to know how to choose the right SD Memory Card for your digital camera or camcorder.

Generally speaking, the best thing to do before buying an SD card, is to check your owner's manual for the recommended SD cards for your digital device. In order to keep things simple, what you should know about memory card specifications are: SD card size, SD card Class, and SD card memory capacity.

In terms of SD card sizes, they come in standard sized SD cards, miniSD cards, and microSD cards. Standard size SD cards are used in most cameras and camcorders. Whereas, miniSD and microSD cards are used in smartphones and tablets. Having said so, miniSD and microSD cards can also be used in cameras and other digital devices with an adapter.

In terms of SD card Classes, there are mainly 5 classes: Class 2, 4, 6, 10 and UHS (Ultra-High Speed). The Class is used to determine the read/write speed of the memory card. Essentially, a Class 2 SD card has a minimum write speed of 2 MB/s. The higher the Class, the faster the transfer speed.

In terms of SD card memory capacity, there are mainly three types: SD, SDHC (High Capacity), and SDXC (Extended Capacity). The memory capacity determines the memory storage capacity, for example, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB and so on.

The lower end Class 2 SD cards are good for standard definition and still photography. Whereas, the ones above Class 4 to Class 10 (SDHC and SDXC) are good for high definition (HD) video and continuous HD still photography. The UHS Class SD cards are good for professional level Full HD video and photography.

If you'd like to learn more about SD cards, visit SD Cards 101. If you're ready to buy SD cards, you can visit Amazon's secure shopping website by clicking any of the SD card banners below:

SanDisk SD Cards for Digital Photography

SanDisk Extreme SD Cards for Digital Photography

Lexar SD Cards for Digital Photography

Kingston SD Cards for Digital Photography

Transcend SD Cards for Digital Photography

You can also get Wi-Fi enabled SD memory cards which allow you to transfer your pictures and videos to other digital devices via a Wi-Fi network. You can learn more about Eye-Fi SD cards.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Laptops, Tablets, Ultrabooks Comparison

With rapid advancements in technology, we’re seeing faster, lighter and more efficient computing and wireless devices in the market. The influx of new and advanced computers and tablets, can leave the consumer confused in terms of what is best for their needs.

Advertizing can be deceptive and luring to the consumer leaving the consumer with a device that may not match their needs. Therefore the very first step in buying any laptop or tablet is determining the need. Once you have determined your need, you will have to decide whether a tablet, laptop or ultrabook will suit you best.

You can learn more about the difference between laptops and ultrabooks. Essentially, ultrabooks are faster, lighter and more portable compared to laptops. Also, they cost a little more than traditional laptops, so in some cases, the consumer will benefit from owning a laptop including their lower and reasonable prices. I believe that as ultrabooks become cheaper, they will ultimately replace traditional laptops. 

Tablets and laptops are quite different though, and serve a different purpose for the consumer. Tablets are much more portable than laptops or ultrabooks, and are mostly used for consumption of information. Contrary to tablets, laptops and ultrabooks are used for content creation and data processing. One of the big differences between tablets and laptops is that the latter has a physical keyboard and most tablets have a virtual keyboard. 

If you are looking for the top tablets in the market, you can visit Tablet Comparison Guide where you will find information, specifications, and video reviews of some of the best tablets. The Apple iPad was among the first tablets to be introduced in the market in 2010. However, the competition has been fierce with introduction of popular Android tablets, at much more reasonable prices. 

If you are looking for the top ultrabooks in the market, you can visit Ultrabook Comparison Guide where you will find information, specifications, and video reviews of some of the best ultrabooks in the market. In 2012, Intel introduced ultrabooks which have become popular. You can expect to see better, more efficient and more reasonably priced ultrabooks in 2013.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Amazon Kindle e-Readers in Canada

Amazon's popular Kindle eReaders are finally available in Canada via the website as of January 23, 2013. So Canadians can now order them online without hassle and may be eligible for free shipping.

Amazon eReaders were first introduced in 2007 and became very popular as they evolved and prices dropped considerably with the arrival of tablets. These new and improved Amazon Kindle eReaders are fifth generation Kindles, released in September and October 2012.

These new Amazon Kindles come in three models with Wi-Fi connectivity, and the top end Kindle model comes with free 3G connectivity. These eReaders are very light-weight and have a 6-inch display screen. Priced between $89 and $199, Amazon has made them very affordable to the consumer. The Amazon Kindles are designed for reading and can hold over 1,000 books and you also have access to Amazon's cloud storage.

The $139 and $199 Amazon Kindle models have a built-in light which helps reduce eye fatigue. The brightness of the built-in light can be adjusted and uses less power.

With the Kindle eReaders, users can shop online at the Amazon stores and these devices also have an experimental web browser which enables users to search the web using Wikipedia or Google search. Below you will find a Kindle specifications chart comparing the three Amazon Kindle eReader models:

Shop for Kindle eReaders at
 Apart from the Kindle eReaders, Amazon has also launched their popular Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets at competitive prices.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Firefox 18 Review

Mozilla released Firefox 18, its latest Rapid Release internet browser version on January 8, 2013.

I’ve been using Firefox web browser for several years now and it’s been my favourite browser, but since I’ve been tried Google Chrome, I’ve definitely found a great alternative. In fact, Google Chrome which was behind Internet Explorer and Firefox, in terms of global usage, has now caught on with Internet Explorer and left Firefox behind.

With the new Rapid Releases being implemented approximately every 6 weeks, Firefox has been making improvements to their internet browser, but still lag behind. Let’s review some of the improvements implemented in Firefox in the last few Rapid Release versions starting with Firefox 18:

First off, there were over 2,900 bug fixes implemented in Firefox 18 including some security fixes. One of the major improvements in Firefox 18 was the faster performance in JavaScript via the new IonMonkey JavaScript engine. For Mac users, Firefox provides full support for OS X 10.7 (and up) high-resolution retina displays. Web Developers will see improvements in terms of support for new DOM property window.devicePixelRatio; improvement in startup time through smart handling of signed extension certificates; and support for W3C touch events implemented, taking the place of MozTouch events. As per the Peacekeeper browser benchmark test results, Firefox performed better than previous Firefox browser versions. However, Google Chrome continues to outperform Firefox, as you can see from the browser benchmark results below:

In Firefox 17, there were over 2,300 bug fixes implemented, though there were no noticeable new features implemented. Firefox 17 upgrade included Social API support which helps integrate social media sites in your browsing experience as well as support for Facebook Messenger in the Firefox sidebar. Another enhancement included were larger icons in the Firefox Awesome Bar which makes it easier to navigate through. The Peacekeeper browser benchmark test results showed no improvement over the previous version Firefox 16. As usual, Google Chrome outperformed Firefox as you can see from the results below:

In Firefox 16, there were over 1,900 bug fixes implemented including a couple of critical security fixes. Firefox 16 included Web Apps support for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems, and improvement in JavaScript responsiveness. Web Developers were treated to a new Developer Toolbar which includes buttons providing quick access to tools, error count for the Web Console, and a new command line for quick keyboard access. When I ran the Peacekeeper browser benchmark test, the results showed a slight drop in overall performance and Google Chrome continued to outperform:

Other significant improvements made in Firefox, in previous updates, were: optimization of memory usage for add-ons; silent background updates, which is similar to Google Chrome, if you have your browser set for automatic updates; new Pointer Lock API which helps better control the mouse; full screen support for Mac OS X Lion to enhance browsing experience; and new API which stops the screen from sleeping. Overall, Firefox still remains my browser of choice, though Google Chrome is soon becoming one of my favourites. For more detailed information on Firefox Rapid Release updates, visit Firefox Reviews.